The most important protective resource to enable a child to cope with exposure to violence is a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive adult, most often a parent, (Osofsky, 1999).
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Hotline advocates are available 24/7 for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.
Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, does not offer services directly for victims or survivors of abuse, however many national and local organizations do. If you would like to speak to a domestic violence counselor, contact the resources on this list for free, confidential support. These organizations are available from anywhere within the United States. Many operate 24 hours a day and in various languages.
How to Support a Child or Teen:
- Healing begins with relationships. The adult helping relationship is the most powerful tool we have to assist kids in healing from traumatic events. Allow children and teens to stay close to their parents.
- Help children and teens know what to expect. Provide a highly structured and predictable home and learning environment for children.
- Let the child know that it is OK to talk about what has happened. When children are ready, it helps to be able to talk about the violence in their lives with trusted adults.
- Give parents support. Help parents understand that young children think differently than adults and need careful explanations about scary events.
- Foster children’s self-esteem. Children who live with violence need reminders that they are lovable, competent and important.
- Pay close attention to non-verbal cues. Providing positive verbal reinforcement whenever possible.
- Give children and teens choices whenever possible. Allowing children to feel in control can help alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed and restore a sense of safety.
- Don’t try it alone. Identify and collaborate with other caregivers in the child’s life.
- Teach alternatives to violence. Help kids learn conflict resolution skills and about non-violent ways of playing.
- Model nurturing in your interactions with children and teens. Serve as role models for children in resolving issues in respectful and non-violent ways.
Adapted & Reprinted from The Child Witness to Violence Project, Boston Medical Center
Additional Strategies for Promoting Resiliency Among Adolescents/Teens:
- Answer questions honestly.
- Find ways for teens to express feelings, i.e. writing, journaling, poems, art, etc.
- Talk to teens about healthy relationships and help them understand the warning signs of an unhealthy dating relationship.
- Support the creation of strong social support networks with peers, teachers, coaches, extended family, etc.
- Actively work on repairing or creating a supportive parent-child relationship through spending time together.
- Seek a committed mentor or other person from outside the family.
- Advocate for positive school experiences and accommodations if needed.
- Create opportunities for the teen to achieve a sense of mastery and a belief and one’s own efforts can make a
- Participation in a range of extra-curricular activities such as music, sports, theater, art, volunteering, etc.
- Create opportunities to to ‘make a difference’ by helping others or through part-time work.
- Do not excessively shelter teens from challenging situations that provide opportunities to develop coping skills.
- Expect to have to do these things again and again.
That’s Not Cool is a national public education campaign that uses digital examples of controlling, pressuring, and threatening behavior to raise awareness about and prevent teen dating abuse. The interactive website is geared towards helping teens draw their “digital line” on what is a healthy and unhealthy dating relationships.
Bursting the Bubble is a website specifically designed to help teens who are living with domestic violence understand and process their experiences and provides information on safety planning.
Safety and Well-Being For Survivors:
These tip sheets created by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health provide information on the ways that experiencing abuse can affect how we think, feel, and respond to other people and the world around us. The series also provides tips on how to seek support for yourself and how to help if someone you know is being abused.